Tuesday, 5 January 2016


Today at 4:40 am in the very early morning, my eyes opened from deep sleep, to realise that my world was shaking. 
Noiselessly, as if even She was afraid of disturbing these precious pre-dawn moments, the Earth rocked like a tired mother forcefully patting her errant child to just close his eyes and sleep already.
I lay, splayed on my cozy, cottony blanket draped bed, shaking along with my room to the Earth’s noiseless taandav; listening intently in the quiet for sounds from my family and neighbours and praying, for the people who are closer to the epicentre, this time.
For I remember, the seemingly festive day of 26th January 2001, when I was much closer to the epicentre of an earthquake. It was the day that a fifteen year old girl realised that the Earth sometimes needed a holiday too, and refused to tote our burden.   

Swash! My eyes cringed as the morning sun suddenly filtered in through the windows, as my mother slid the curtains aside. 

“Girls! Just because you have a holiday today, doesn’t mean that you will sleep through it. Get up, now! Don’t you want to see the parade?” 

“Mmmm…good morning” I stretched myself up. 

“What’s the time?” came from under my sister’s quilt. 

“It’s 7:40, and until and unless you are bathed and brushed, you are not to sit in front of the television.” ordered my mum. “Ohh! Just fifteen minutes more, please ma.” My sister’s quilt pleaded. 

For my part, I said, “Please ma, I won’t be ready on time, you know that. And this time, my teachers from my Kathak class are going to perform in the Republic Day Parade in Delhi! I have to watch them.” 

“Did you hear what I just said? You have more than an hour. Hurry up. Happy Republic Day.” She kissed us both.

I love it, when my mother wakes us up. It seems to be the start of the perfect day, warm and secure. Even with the threat of not witnessing this once in a year treat, I followed her around the house, as she bustled about. She loved the parade too, and wanted to finish her chores in time to see it. “Go and get ready, and stop wasting time” she said for the last time.

“Well” I thought as I brushed my teeth, “It’s almost 8:45. I just have fifteen minutes. I ‘d better rush.” Suddenly the room started to shake, violently. 

“What’s this! An earthquake?! But, but…Gujarat never had one before. Then why has it started now?...” my mind was a flurry. Of confusion and questions, useless questions and mental reminders to look up the fault-lines that surrounded India, as my hands groped for support from the violently dancing wall beside me, and my feet struggled to stay upright on a suddenly rootless floor. 

The light bulb was fluctuating as I washed my hands, my mother’s hygiene ideals refused to leave me even in this terror-struck world.  

A huge mass of sound came from the earth as it danced to this horrible tune.It seemed as if a large Rakhshasa from one of my grandmother’s tales had come alive and was roaring in displeasure.

I rushed downstairs on uneven stairs. Around me, I could hear my neighbours screaming in terror and confusion. And in the distance, sounds of metal and concrete…crumbling.

It ended as it had begun. With no warning. 

The city was quiet. Too quiet. 

No comments:

Post a Comment